Comair Flight 3272

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Comair Flight 3272
Embraer EMB-120RT Brasilia, Comair AN0214402.jpg
A Comair Embraer EMB-120,
similar to the one involved
DateJanuary 9, 1997 (1997-01-09)
SummaryAtmospheric icing and pilot error leading
to loss of control.
SiteRaisinville Township,[1] Monroe County, Michigan, U.S.
41°57′48.08″N 83°33′8.39″W / 41.9633556°N 83.5523306°W / 41.9633556; -83.5523306Coordinates: 41°57′48.08″N 83°33′8.39″W / 41.9633556°N 83.5523306°W / 41.9633556; -83.5523306
Aircraft typeEmbraer 120 RT Brasilia
OperatorComair (as Delta Connection)
Flight originCincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport
DestinationDetroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport

Comair Flight 3272 was a Comair flight from Cincinnati to Detroit on Thursday, January 9, 1997. While on approach for landing, the Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia aircraft crashed nose-down 18 miles (29 km) southwest of Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport at 15:54 EST.[2][3][4] All 29 aboard, 26 passengers and three crew members, were killed.[5][6]

Passengers and crew[edit]

There were 26 passengers on board the Embraer 120, registered as N265CA. There were two crew members in the cockpit and a flight attendant in the cabin. The captain was Dan Carlsen (age 42), who was in command of Flight 3272 at the time of the crash. The first officer was Kenneth Reese (29), who was second in command of the aircraft and was the Pilot Flying (PF) on Flight 3272.


Flight 3272 took off from Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport at 14:53. Less than an hour later, the pilots began the approach to Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. The air traffic controller instructed the pilots to descend to 4,000 feet (1,220 m) and turn right on a heading of 180 degrees.

About 45 seconds later, the pilots were instructed to turn left onto a heading of 090 degrees to intercept the localizer. During the turn however, the aircraft abupty stalled, the pilots lost control, and it crashed into a rural field in Raisinville Township in Monroe County, killing all 29 aboard.[1][5]


The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause was inadequate standards for icing operations while in flight, specifically the failure of the Federal Aviation Administration to establish adequate minimum airspeeds for icing conditions, leading to a loss of control when the airplane accumulated a thin, rough accretion of ice on its lifting surfaces.

A contributing factor was the decision of the crew to operate in icing conditions while near the lower end of the flight envelope while the flaps were retracted. Comair had not established unambiguous minimum airspeed values for flap configurations and for flight in icing conditions. They also, against recommendation of the planes manufacturer, failed to activate de-icing boots on the wings. This was because the Comair Flight manual recommendation was in contravention of the manufacturers due to a concern over "bridging", a concern held-over from older planes that was no longer valid on newer generation planes like the Embraer 120.


The investigation into the crash was covered in "Deadly Myth", a 2017 episode of Mayday, a Canadian television series about air crashes.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Hyde, Justin (January 10, 1997). "Investigators seek clues in plane crash". Ludington Daily News. (Michigan). Associated Press. p. 1.
  2. ^ "Plane crashes in 'ball of fire'; 29 killed". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Knight-Ridder News Service, New York Times, Associated Press. January 10, 1997. p. 1A.
  3. ^ Hughes, John (January 10, 1997). "Plane crashes in big fireball near Detroit". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. p. 1A.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b Wilkinson, Mike (January 10, 1997). "29 die in Ida plane crash". Toledo Blade. Ohio. p. 1.
  6. ^ "In crisis, Comair stayed on course". The Cincinnati Enquirer. January 19, 1997. Retrieved October 21, 2009.
  7. ^ "Deadly Myth (Comair Flight 3272) - S17E02 - Mayday -". Retrieved 8 October 2018.

External links[edit]